Ranthe looked up as Sundown rejoined them, the chakat having shed hir saddlebag and put on a pair of lightweight headphones. Shi passed briefly into the kitchen area of the room and opening a refrigeration unit, then shi reappeared carrying glasses filled with an orange liquid on a tray towards the two vulpines, who were sitting straight up in two of the beanbags. With one forepaw, Sundown invited them to take one of the glasses each, settling hirself down on a rug in front of them and placing the tray on the floor.
Ranthe sniffed at the drink with her sensitive nose, and took a small sip. To her amazement, in all defiance of probability, it turned out to be ordinary orange juice - or at least, the local equivalent. "Nice..." she said, nodding to the chakat, who smiled in turn. MayFurr followed his companions example, and drank as well, the cold liquid being very refreshing after their long journey. "Mmm... not bad at all!" he agreed. Turning to Sundown, he bowed his head briefly. "Thank you."
Sundown's headphones echoed the alien language harshly in hir ear as the Translator struggled with the input. Shi picked up hir own glass of juice, taking a large gulp before placing the glass down again and pointing to herself. "I am.... Chakat," Sundown addressed the foxes, the Translator's attempt echoing softly into the room. "You... what?"
MayFurr's ears pricked up at the second feline voice, and turned to Ranthe questioningly. Ranthe shrugged in response. "Dunno... what do you think it wants us to do?"
"It looks like it's trying to teach us something... I think," MayFurr suggested. Pointing to himself, he tried to mimic Sundown's words. "Chah-kut. Chay-kit?"
The chakat shook hir head. "No, I'm a chakat - chakat," shi slowly repeated, again pointing to hirself, the Translator adding its own limited contribution every time someone spoke.
Sundown nodded, smiling. "Yes, yes. That's right! Now... what is your name. You are...?" shi said, this time gesturing to each fox in turn.
"What now?" Ranthe asked, looking puzzled. "Is that what it calls us, you think?"
It was MayFurr's turn to shrug this time. "Your guess is as good as mine..."
Sundown saw the confused expression on the fox's faces, and sighed. This was going to take a while.
It was quite late that evening when Sundown decided to call it a day with hir translation efforts, all three becoming quite sleepy by that time. A break for the evening meal had been interesting for all parties, as the chakat tried to figure out what sort of food in hir larder would be palatable to the alien foxes. Meats shi was sure of, watching them during hir time in the forest with them, but anything else was a mystery to hir. Fortunately, MayFurr and Ranthe were indeed quite capable of eating a similar sort of meal as shi was accustomed to, though the vixen had turned her nose up at a particular dark substance Sundown found useful as a condiment.
One problem remained - sleeping arrangements. Sundown's home was quite small by chakat standards, and lacked any sort of guest quarters. Normally this wasn't a problem, Sundown's guests usually being other chakats who didn't mind snuggling together in a communal bed, but on this occasion shi thought that it wasn't really... appropriate. So instead, shi brought some extra blankets out into the living room, indicating to MayFurr and Ranthe that they were to sleep on the beanbags before walking into the hallway, closing the door and turning the light off behind hir.
The two foxes wearily attended to setting up a bed for the night, drawing the soft beanbags together and fashioning a mattress between them. "What do you think it'll do with us in the morning?" Ranthe asked, spreading out one blanket on the floor before tentatively reaching for her jumpsuit zipper.
"Probably continue what we were doing tonight," MayFurr replied, smoothing out the blanket and slipping his jacket off. "It wants to try and teach us its language I think, judging by what that other voice in the room was trying to do. For now it's best we go along with them... we can learn something more about them, and figure out what we want to do next."
Ranthe was silent for a few moments, turning her back to him in the darkness and stepping out of her clothing, before sliding herself under the blanket. "I thought we were going to try and find a way home, May... weren't we?"
"You know how far we are away from home Ranthe," he answered. "I'm not sure if the people here could help us anyway - assuming they wanted to." Taking the rest of his clothes off, MayFurr slipped under the blanket on the far side of the vixen, stretching and yawning. "I'll tell you what, this sure beats sleeping in the Fury..."
"Yeah..." Ranthe agreed, snuggling herself down for the night. "I do want to find a way back home though, May... I miss my family, and my brother... they'll worry, you know..."
The male fox remained silent, lying back and staring at the ceiling through the blackness. He had no family to speak of, or even that he was aware of if the truth was to be known. The first thing he could really remember was waking up alone in the grass next to an old bandstand in a park on Furry Prime, and after that he had just drifted, looking for an identity and a place to call home. Finding the Nighthawk had been a lucky break, so had meeting Ranthe and agreeing to trial the SR-146 as part of its inauguration programme, but still MayFurr felt he was searching for something not yet found.
MayFurr brushed Ranthe's cheek with his paw, stroking lightly down the fur on her back as she sleepily cuddled up to him in the night. What did he really want, he wondered, looking over towards the now sleeping vixen. Did he really want to go back to the Furrderation? Or did he want to try and make a new life in a place far away and cut off from all he had known before?
One thing was certain though, MayFurr decided, as he wrapped his arms around Ranthe and drifted off to sleep. While she was with him, he was responsible for her, and because of that he would do his best to get them both home... whatever it took.
Sundown moodily made hirself a cup of coffee while MayFurr and Ranthe slept, hir mind running over the day's progress. The Translator had managed to pick up a few scraps of the alien fox's language, and judging by some of their reactions some of hir language was being translated successfully the other way - unfortunately nothing yet sufficient to make complete sentences in either tongue. Shi downed the entire cup in one gulp, then padded softly towards the bathroom, looking forward to cleaning hirself up.
As shi bathed hirself, Sundown wondered if shi had bitten off more than shi could chew with this one. Progress seemed to be disappointingly slow in either direction, and there was the possibility of someone in authority taking exception to an admitted amateur getting involved in something as important as a First Contact... but, shi reminded hirself, you had to take your chances when you could, and successfully managing this sort of thing would be a real bow in hir tail. "You're just tired," Sundown muttered to hirself, soaping carefully over hir generous chakat breasts and down hir sides, sighing with relief as the hot water in the bath soothed hir aching legs and washed the forest mud away. "You'll feel better in the morning. And if they talk between themselves while I'm elsewhere, the Translator can work on that too."
The chakat's sleepy mind wandered to thinking about the alien pair, and their similarity to other fox-morphs shi had met. The female in particular... her long flowing head-fur did look attractive, shi admitted to hirself, and the vixen's figure was pleasingly plump, not fat or anything, simply pleasantly curved. "Mmmm... she is pretty though..." Sundown softly murmured, bending over to soap and lather along hir lower body, hir maleness responding eagerly to hir touching and erotic thoughts... "If things were different... she could be lots of fun!" Hir thoughts flicked briefly towards the male as shi slid happily around in the tub, but soon returned to fantasising about the vixen - being near the male peak of hir cycle, shi was more inclined to consider female partners of other species rather than males. "Mmmmm... yes she would be quite lovely..." shi sighed to hirself, half-closing hir eyes while continuing to stroke hir wet and soapy fur with hir hands, running hir fingers slowly over hir breasts and nipples as in hir minds eye shi envisaged the beautiful vixen and hir making sweet tender love together... the combination of luxuriously warm water and gentle touching arousing hir more and more. After hir isolation from other chakats for the past couple of weeks Sundown was aroused and feeling rather amorous, a natural tendency for such a sensual species as chakats. Sundown's mind was by now revelling in erotic thoughts, experiencing a sexual itch which shi desperately needed to scratch...
The chakat rolled over in the tub, hir lower legs up in the air. Hir penis had by now slid all the way out of its sheath, fully erect as Sundown reached for it with one of hir forepaws, massaging it with the pawhand in the warm water while shi continued to rub at her breasts. Sundown leaned back, purring to hirself as ripples of pleasure ran through hir body, her eyes closed as shi soaped around hir sheath and cock, now picturing hirself mounting Swiftsure as shi did so many years ago... Faster hir paw and hands moved, causing the chakat to groan and pant with pleasure as shi fondled hirself, sloshing the water around in the bath, hir excitement building up further and further...
MayFurr's ears pricked up as he woke from his sleep, hearing soft moaning and the sounds of sloshing water... it seemed to reach a peak, then the noises seemed to die down.
Sundown stretched out in the tub, leaning back and lying still as hir climax passed, breathing softly and idly stroking hirself while shi calmed down again. "Whew..." shi whispered, looking down at hirself, reaching for a cloth and what remained of the soap. After shi had finished, Sundown climbed out of the tub, and dried hirself off in the large air-drying cubicle in the bathroom. Tossing hir halter-top into the laundry basket, shi padded quietly off to hir bedroom, settling hirself down onto the large circular mattress before curling up under the covers and falling into a blissful dream-filled sleep.
The morning rays of the sun shone through Sundown's bedroom window, falling directly on hir face as shi groaned sleepily, blinking through the strong light and shielding hir eyes. "Ohhhhh... gods, what's the time?" shi muttered, rubbing hir eyes and sitting up, looking around sleepily. "Only six? Feh..." A flashing light on the clock panel caught hir attention.
"Hmph. Messages." Pushing the covers off of hir, Sundown sat up in bed, reaching over with one hand to press the 'play' key on hir answer service.
First message was from a colleague at work. "Hi Sundown it's Roxxanne look I know you're not probably back yet but when you do can you give me a call about - "
The chakat hastily pressed a key, and the next message was played.
"Good evening Chakat Sundown. My name is Chakat Grabfoot from Global Wide Marketing, and I want to tell you about the marvellous new opp - "
Sundown quickly punched another button, erasing the message.
"Sundown, it's Blacktip here. Thank you very much for the anniversary present you gave me and your mother, it was very thoughtful of you. We'll look forward to seeing you at Christmas - and do feel free to bring a friend with you this time!"
Shi pressed the 'save' key for that one, smiling to hirself. "Maybe I will..." Shi had been dating a tiger-striped chakat for the last couple of months, and was fast building a warm relationship with hir. Sundown knew that hir sire was most enthusiastic about hir finding a life-mate, in fact it had become somewhat of a joke between them, but shi didn't really mind. It was all family, after all.
With no more messages to deal with, Sundown switched on the radio, listening to the end of the news bulletin as shi grabbed hir favourite brush and started the long job of grooming hirself, brushing out hir head-fur, then down hir upper sides, teasing out the tangles and knots. Grooming for a chakat took a lot of time, especially considering the amount of body to cover, but Sundown found that a morning groom set hir up for the day feeling positive and invigorated, well worth the effort. Shi hummed to hirself as shi worked, the skin under hir fur tingling with the massage from the brush...
" - mystery to unravel as part of the installation of the new Chakona air tracking network. Sources have claimed that personnel at the Berdoovia air traffic control complex picked up a low flying aircraft for which they had no registered flightplan. This is the second time in a week..."
Sundown looked up in surprise, hir ears pricking up. "What?"
"... tracking the object on a heading taking it close to Windwater and Chases-My-Tail. However, Chakona air traffic authorities have dismissed such reports, saying instead that it was a technical glitch caused by the cutover of the new system."
The chakat's tail twitched in anxiety, hir mind racing. Despite the assurance of the news broadcast shi severely doubted that the passage of what was obviously the fox aliens ship would simply be written off, especially if what was probably their arrival had also been noticed. Hastily finishing hir grooming, Sundown pulled hirself off the bed and quickly padded out to the living area, the radio burbling forgotten behind hir.
"Finally, Terran Deep Space Command announced today that the exploration vessel Isaac Asimov will visit Chakona early next week. The 'Big A' will spend a week in orbit around Chakona taking on supplies and transferring personnel before embarking on a two year exploration mission outside of Stellar Federation space."
"That's the news for the hour, this is Chakat Snowfur reporting for CNN."
MayFurr awoke to the sound of breakfast being made in the kitchen, the clatter of dishes rousing him from a deep restful sleep. Looking down, he gently disengaged himself from the still sleeping vixen, and sat up, watching their host as shi bustled about.
"Well I hope they don't start putting two and two together and start looking around that plantation for your ship," Sundown said to hirself, not caring that everything shi said was still running through the Universal Translator, "because if they do they might start tracking to here, and they'll come and take over before I'm ready..." Catching sight of the waking fox, shi turned to him and sighed. "Oh, you're awake. What do you want for breakfast - oh hell, you've still got no idea what I'm saying, right?"
"... I hope... don't ... two... two... around that... your... here... oh, you're... what...still got no... right?" MayFurr heard the Translator repeat in his language. He frowned, running the phrase around in his head. Dammit, it almost made sense!
"Still got no... what?" MayFurr replied, trying to speak slowly. "I think I'm getting more of this, but you're not making sense."
"Still got no... what? I think I'm... more of... but you're not... sense." the Translator repeated back to Sundown. Now it was hir turn to look puzzled!
The blanket stirred next to MayFurr, and Ranthe slowly sat up, stretching. "Morning May," she yawned. "Sleep well?"
"Yeah, thanks Ranthe. You?"
She smiled. "Haven't slept this good since we came here. You're right, it does beat the Fury for comfort here."
"Uh-huh." MayFurr mumbled, reaching for his jacket pocket, pulling out the remote monitor that allowed him to keep track of the SR-146's security systems. He fiddled with some of the controls, and gave a satisfied grunt.
"All okay with the Fury?" Ranthe asked, pulling up the blanket to cover her breasts as she sat up further.
MayFurr nodded. "No detection, no attempted entry. So far I'd say no-one but our host here knows where we are."
Ranthe hmmmed, not entirely convinced. "What about the voices on the com-channel?"
"Well, there is that... but whatever it was, I think we've gotten away. If they were really after us, they would have triggered something." MayFurr answered, turning his back to Ranthe as he bent over to put his trousers on - inadvertently exposing himself to Sundown who had just finished preparing breakfast and had come over to tell them.
"Uh, May..." Ranthe warned, but she was too late.
Sundown raised hir eyebrows upon seeing MayFurr practically 'in the fur' before hir, hir eyes taking in the fox's wiry build. MayFurr looked up and started in surprise, almost stumbling over backwards. "What the - "
He never finished the sentence, for Sundown's unclothed form was standing directly in front of him, the chakat's softly furred generous breasts standing proud and firm mere centimetres from the fox's muzzle! MayFurr gasped in surprise, breathlessly taking in the curvaceous form of Sundown's upper body, his eyes travelling up to meet hir amused gaze before travelling down again to fix on the chakat's cleavage...
Sundown noticed the glazed expression on the male fox's face and the frantic gesticulations of the vixen behind him, smirking to hirself as gaze travelled further down the hapless male's body. "Well well well..." shi chuckled to hirself, breaking out in a large grin, tapping the stunned MayFurr on the nose and pointing downwards to his crotch where an obvious reaction to hir female attributes was sliding out of his sheath.
The fox managed to tear his gaze away from Sundown's breasts and groaned. "Oh heck!" MayFurr yipped in embarrassment, frantically trying to hold his trousers up, conceal his erection and turn away from both Ranthe and Sundown all at the same time - and failing miserably, giving up and standing full in the fur before them, his trousers around his ankles and his erection on full public display.
Sundown laughed, and turned away from the humiliated fox, lightly tickling under his muzzle and stroking his chest with a finger before padding back over to the dining table where breakfast was served. MayFurr sighed heavily and turned to Ranthe, where the vixen was watching him with a speculative look on her face.
"You know, I think she likes you," Ranthe teased, wrapping the blanket around herself to preserve her own modesty as she walked up to him. "It looks like I might have competition, mmmm... ?"
"Yeah, yeah" MayFurr sighed wearily, reaching down to pull his trousers up.
"You know, I've never seen you in the fur before, May... I had no idea you were so handsome down there... "
"Don't you start!"
"And so eager to please too..."
"My, my... can I have some of that as well? You look delicious..."
"Give it a rest, willya?" MayFurr snapped, scowling in embarrassment for a few moments before breaking into a wide grin, the funny side of what had happened dawning on him. "Okay okay, I'm sorry Ranthe... I didn't mean to bite your head off. It's just..."
Ranthe looked upset for a moment, before smiling again, taking MayFurr by the shoulder. "I know May, I just couldn't resist... you should have seen the look on your face!" She snugged him briefly. "Am I forgiven?"
"Yeah, forgiven." MayFurr nodded. "I think our host has breakfast ready. You coming?"
The vixen turned around, her back to him, and dropped the blanket before climbing into her creased and smudged jumpsuit. "I still think she likes you though, May... just remember who brought you here before running off with her," Ranthe giggled as she dressed.
Not much chance of that though, MayFurr though to himself. For a few moments he had indeed been attracted to their unusual host, but almost immediately afterwards that thought had dropped from his mind like a hot brick. For as Sundown had turned away from him, the fox had glimpsed a similar reaction to his own bobbing between the chakat's hind legs...
Half a world away on one of Chakona's northern continents, Swiftsure was busily working through yet another of the myriad of reports shi had to deal with every day at Dewclaw University. Shi hummed to hirself as shi worked, hir hands flying over the keyboard, determined to get this piece of administration trivia dealt with so that shi could go back to organising hir department's new Linguistics and Languages programme that shi was planning.
A knock on hir office door sounded, and Swiftsure looked up. "Come in."
A weasel-morph poked his head around the door into the cramped office. "Uh, Chakat Swiftsure..."
"Come in, I won't bite" Swiftsure grinned. "Ah, Raymond, isn't it?"
"Uh, yes sir, I mean ma'm, I mean..." Raymond stammered, unsure of himself before the head of department. He nervously shuffled into the chakat's office, picking a path between the numerous filing cabinets, shelves, and the imposing sandy-furred bulk of Swiftsure's lower torso. Once this office had contained enough space for even several chakats to work together, but over the years Swiftsure had managed to fill most available floorspace with files and equipment for each of hir projects... and shi hated to throw any of it away. There was a running joke among the other chakat department heads that Swiftsure's sire must have had a high percentage of pack-rat related genes for the chakat to be able to stock hir office with so much stuff... but shi laughed at those suggestions, pointing out with some truth that rats never made up an appreciable part of Chakat genetic make-up. Most chakats didn't dare to enter Swiftsure's confined office, preferring to talk to the Languages department head through the open door.
Swiftsure turned to face Raymond, hir shoulder brushing against yet another tower of files. Hir hind-quarters rose as shi made hirself comfortable, lightly pinning the weasel against the chakat's locker in the process. I really need a bigger office, Swiftsure thought wearily to hirself. It was almost getting to the point where even shi was finding the confinement irritating. Swiftsure cleared hir throat. "Never mind, Raymond... how can I help you?" shi asked.
Raymond squeaked a little as Swiftsure's rump pressed against him. "Um... Sysadmin Corky says the Universal Translator program you're running is interfering with the molecular analysis job the Geology department is running."
"He does, does he? He's always complaining about the load on his systems," Swiftsure smiled. "Once a performance junkie, always a performance junkie. So what's the load the UT's running that he wants to dump off?"
The weasel swallowed. "Um, ah, Corky says it's running at sixty percent."
The chakat stopped. "It's WHAT?" shi snarled in surprise.
"Er, sixty percent, ma'm, um sir..." Raymond trailed off, the first year student being a little unnerved at being the bearer of bad news to the head of his department. "Sysadmin Corky is most angry that you didn't schedule it with him, he wasn't happy to find it running this morning taking up so much space..."
Swiftsure blinked in disbelief, resting a hand on hir desk and turning towards the comm panel. "But I loaded the lightweight version of the UT so that it wouldn't load the system down..." shi whispered to hirself. "What's Sundown doing, for god's sake?"
"Um, ma'm?" Raymond asked, gasping somewhat as Swiftsure inadvertently backed harder against him.
"Nothing, nothing..." Swiftsure muttered absentmindedly, stretching a little. A barely audible squeak came from behind hir, causing to look up - then move carefully forward. "Ooops, sorry Raymond," shi apologised. Bracing hirself, Swiftsure wrapped hir prehensile tail around the weasel's waist and gently deposited him outside in the corridor. "Look, tell Corky that it's a... personal project of mine, and that I'll deal with it. If he's got a problem, he can call me."
Raymond panted for breath, rubbing his sore chest. "Uh, um, yes ma'm... I mean sir," he mumbled, hastily waving before scuttling down the corridor towards the computer lab, leaving Swiftsure to frown in puzzlement at hir reflection in the viewer screen.
"With that sort of loading, Sundown must be giving the UT a complete and utter workout!" shi said to hirself, thinking out loud. "But shi's got nothing to do with languages normally in that job of hirs - what on Chakona is going on?"
Continue to Chapter 6
Return to the Story IndexCopyright 1996 Terry Knight.